Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Never Let Up, Finish Stronger Than You Started~ April 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:57 am
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Earlier this week I attended a track meet where two of my children competed. As is often the case, an everyday life event proved itself to be an opportunity for a learning experience.

Allow me to set the scene.

Our boys team is on the track for the 1600 meter race, also known as the mile. Four repetitious laps around an oval track could drive anyone mad but three of our athletes quickly take the lead and settle in to a comfortable pace. The number two spot is held by my Peyton.  Their training takes over as they huddle together for the first three laps, competitors close behind but not close enough to make them sweat. As they enter the final 200 meters, our top distance runner pulls away in a beautiful sprint easily securing his spot as top dog. Rounding the final turn, Peyton still holds 2nd with his teammate literally on his heels. Neither one quickens their pace, content with their respective 2nd and 3rd place finishes. With their eyes rightly focused on the finish line, they fail to hear their opponents footsteps as they fall deathly silent on the rubber track. I, along with every other fan for our school, start to scream at the boys to kick it to no avail. Fourth place sails past them just before they step across the line to take 2nd. My mom and I lock eyes knowing what is coming. Even from a distance we can see the vibrant red creep up Peyton’s neck to his face as he realizes the mistake he just made.

Slowly Peyton makes his way to me, shrugging off every congratulations that is extended, exuding such obvious rage that his friends quickly retreat. I brace myself for impact while contemplating how to deal. Do I go into mommy mode and coddle him, making excuses for his faux pas or do I slip into coach mode and use this as a teaching moment? Through gritted teeth he says, “I didn’t know he was so close! I didn’t even sprint, I had plenty left!!” Very calmly, choosing my words carefully, I responded, “You should never base your performance on someone else. You give it everything you’ve got, regardless. Don’t you ever let up and always, always finish stronger than you started.”

He paced for a bit and we talked with his teammate who ended up in 4th about the importance of finishing strong and finally, he calmed down. I can safely say that they both learned their lesson.

Reflecting on that conversation, I can easily see where this lesson can be applied to other areas of life. In the workplace, whether that be in or outside of the home, in our family, our community, our church…literally in any area of our lives…we should never fall into comparing our efforts to those around us. If we would all make it our priority to do our level best at everything we do, then even if we fail by the worlds standards, we will have succeeded. It isn’t about what so-and-so does or where you measure up in the big scheme of things. Life is about knowing that you’ve laid it all out there, being the best possible version of yourself every step of the way. By moving forward in this manner, you can rest assured that you will definitely finish stronger than you started.start finish

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (1Co 9:24-27 The Message)

 

 

~We Are Beautiful~ April 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:38 am
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My name is Valerie Deaune Rutledge. I am 33. I am 5’5…on a good day. I weigh somewhere between 120 & 130 pounds, I think. My clothing size varies depending on the number of carbs I’ve consumed on any given day. Stretch marks decorate the sides of my hips where my body strained under the pressure of carrying my children. My cheeks are dimpled, and I ain’t talking about the ones above my neck. There is a single age spot on my face. It’s right next to the wrinkles that feather out from the corners of my eyes, proof that I smile often & laugh easily. I have deep lines across my forehead, reminders of the times I’ve lain awake at night with worry. I have knobby knees, scaly elbows & not-so-white teeth from TOO MUCH COFFEE.

Why would I share these things with you, these personal details that most would consider flaws? Because I have had it with society defining us based on what is seen on the outside. I want to free women from the negative body images that plague us and keep us from being who we were created to be. So what my body is flawed according to the standards that are spat in our faces everywhere we look? I am so much more than a body.

I am a mom, and a pretty good one at that. I am a wife who loves her husband fiercely. I am a sister & a daughter. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am sensitive & compassionate. I love hard & forgive quickly. But most importantly, I am a child of God who tells me I am fearfully & wonderfully made. The same God who doesn’t make trash so why would I allow myself to believe that I am?

I am beautiful, so are you. Even with our flabby arms, sagging bottoms, wrinkly skin or whatever else makes us cringe when we look in the mirror. Ladies, when you stare into the eyes of your reflection, stop criticizing what you see. Begin to praise yourself for all of your amazing qualities that make you unique! Your intelligence, your sense of humor, your love for others…those are the things that make you lovely.

No more body shaming! Ignore the ads that offer quick fixes to “repair” all that is “wrong” with you. LOVE YOURSELF!

Can I offer a challenge today? Compliment your friends today, not on their looks, but on some other quality that you think makes them spectacular! I’m going to blow up some Facebook pages 🙂

beauty

 

~He Protected Me~ April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:39 am
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protection“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”

Our Pastor spoke these words during his Good Friday message and they have resonated with me since. There have been a few instances in my life when I felt like I was under attack.

At times, the attacker has been a visible enemy. I’ve had my reputation on the line when gossipers chose to spread their distorted version of events to anyone who would listen. I’ve been in “relationships” where my vulnerability was exploited. There have been a handful of times when a man has used his strength to control me. And yet, in each of these circumstances, God shielded me from ruin. No irreparable damage was done. I’ve been blessed with true friends & family whose opinion of me cannot be swayed by slander, who would never take advantage or lay a malicious hand on me.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” (Psalm 138:7 ESV)

Then there have been times when my adversary was the one who specializes in the sneak attack, Satan. Here’s the thing about the onslaught of the devil, you don’t always realize that you are under siege, that is until it’s all said and done and you look back on the situation. That’s why the Bible warns us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)  He is crafty and creeps in when your defenses are down. He will take advantage of your weaknesses, remind you of all your failures and convince you that you have no future. Even in these times, the Lord has prevailed, reminding me of who HE says I am.

But that’s not what struck me about this statement from Pastor. What stirred in my spirit was the profound truth that God protected me even in the moments when I didn’t know I needed it. And by that I mean, He protected me from myself. If there has ever been someone I could accuse of singlehandedly attempting to destroy my life, it would be me. I have belittled myself. I’ve made insanely bad choices. I’ve sabotaged perfectly healthy relationships in favor of the not-so-healthy variety. I’ve hidden my need for help from loved ones and ran hard & fast from God. And yet, I am still here. Still loved by God. Forgiven of all the crappy mistakes I’ve made and welcomed back with eagerness into His loving arms. He has saved me from ruin.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)

“The Lord protected me when I was under attack.”